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Book and Film Discussions > October 2017 Group Read: Mortal Showdown #BOM-oct-2017

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message 1: by Alex (last edited Oct 10, 2017 07:58AM) (new)

Alex (asato) Our ninth group read of 2017 is a thriller.

Please join us in reading Nik Krasno's Mortal Showdown
Mortal Showdown by Nik Krasno .
Mikhail's worth billions, but his brother's kidnappers are not after the money. They need him.

Making things even worse - among his numerous adversaries is one of Russia’s most influential strongmen.

To have the slightest chance in a face-off with his prime nemesis, Mikhail needs to attack head on, undertaking the greatest risk of his entire life. Unfortunately, the dangerous mission goes wrong from the very beginning.

Does he stand a chance when in order to survive he needs to prevail?
Reading Schedule

10 October Chapter 8 (~49%)
19 October (entire book)


message 2: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments I am in


message 3: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) I bought my copy. Only 1 USD on kindle.


message 4: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) I didn’t know it was onKobo. 1 USD.

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/mort...


message 5: by Nik (last edited Oct 04, 2017 08:24AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Thank you, guys. Honored to have Mortal chosen for October.
It should be available on multiple platforms through Smash and Kindle, priced at 1 usd or its equivalent in other currencies. Not sure whether it's possible to pay in Ruble, Hryvna or North Korean won though.
Any comments, thought, critique and praise are equally welcome and I'm here to answer any question, if author's angle is required..


message 6: by Kent (new)

Kent Babin | 176 comments Sorry I've been totally AWOL these last few months. I've read this book already, but I will contribute to discussions where I can.


message 7: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Added reading schedule.


message 8: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5349 comments I bought this in paperback today for about ten bucks. Looking forward to reading and discussing.


message 9: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments I hope to read this one too. Just have to get past opening night for our musical and rediscover some time to read.


message 10: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Scout wrote: "I bought this in paperback today for about ten bucks. Looking forward to reading and discussing."

I wish it could cost less. Createspace (Amazon's arm, offering Print on Demand option) dictates quite high minimums to price a paperback..


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Paperbacks have to be more highly priced simply because printing and distribution costs are so much higher. There is essentially no cost in reproducing an ebook, once compiled, and distribution costs are fairly minimal.


message 12: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments All true, it's just I feel a little uneasy with Scout paying 10 bucks for it


message 13: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5349 comments I'm not an e-book reader, so I expect to pay more for a paper copy. I'm fine with the price.


message 14: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Scout wrote: "I'm not an e-book reader"

Neither am I (don't know whether it's a grammatical expression)


message 15: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) I wanted to take a moment to encourage everyone to also compare and contrast the book of the month to any films (standalone or series) that you believe have relevance or resonance with Mortal Showdown. In particular, we have a film of the month, Winter on Fire, that could serve as a focal point for comparison and contrast.


message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Somewhere along the line we should talk about the book, so to kick things off, what do you all think of the prologue? I suppose it depends on what a prologue should do, but in my opinion, and the way I use them, it should highlight something that will be of background importance for the book. I know it might be a bit early to know the relevance (I am annoy a third of the way through) but I found it puzzling. Personally, I am against putting in things about "writing" in my fiction because I think it looks like the author getting a bit personally involved, as opposed to the story evolving. What does everyone else think?


message 17: by Alex (last edited Oct 10, 2017 07:59AM) (new)

Alex (asato) We can now start discussing the first half of Mortal Showdown (up to and including Chapter 8) without requiring spoiler tags.


message 18: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments I started with the prologue, but in fairness, maybe that should be left. I have found out why I think Nik put it there, but it is past half-way, so that should be left.

My first question relates to misinformation - should that be there, and if so, why? To show that a character is ignorant might be one purpose, but this presupposes the reader can tell the difference. (I am not referring to things that could yet be possible, but things in the past.) Examples: Korablyov brutally put down Prague spring. Actually, this was probably one of the least brutal military invasions ever. Similarly, Einstein kicked out of school. Actually, Einstein was a very good student, and got scores of 6 in a lot of subjects regularly. one source of confusion might be that both Switzerland and Germany rated student on a scale of 1 to 6, but Switzerland has 6 the best, while Germany had 1 the best. Einstein did not negate Newtonian mechanics, although this is a bit more difficult to explain. However, look at it this way - NASA sends probes to Mars and lands them within a few kilometres solely based on Newtonian mechanics.

Then there is "I didn't know how I became public enemy number 1" No idea at all? Really?

What does everyone think of the time spent in Thailand? Did it help the story?

I had trouble with Sasha abducted in broad daylight, with his heavily armed security "Neutralised in broad daylight". The implication is that Korablyov ordered this, and the Ukrainian government was totally useless, but if i get it right, this was still while the Ukrainian government was pro-Moscow. Why wouldn't someone as smart as Korablyov be a little smarter here? This goes to the question of whether the story is self-consistent.


message 19: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5349 comments I just received the book yesterday from Amazon, so I'm going to be behind the posted schedule, but I do want to discuss.


message 20: by Kent (new)

Kent Babin | 176 comments Misinformation is a tough one. On one hand, an author's characters can't possible know the truth about everything. There is a lot of rumours that swirl around and are believed by a good percentage of the population. It therefore makes sense that a character would believe that Einstein did poorly in school or that the Prague Spring was a brutal military crackdown on par with the Khmer Rouge. On the other hand, this is how misinformation insinuates itself. People who don't really care whether the Prague Spring was brutal or not may read the book and not think twice about questioning it.

I also questioned the Thailand part. It seemed too long for its purpose. We know Misha is a philanderer...no need to remind us of that. :)


message 21: by Nik (last edited Oct 11, 2017 06:34AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Ian wrote: "My first question relates to misinformation...
Examples: Korablyov brutally put down Prague spring. Actually, this was probably one of the least brutal military invasions ever. Similarly, Einstein kicked out of school. Actually, Einstein was a very good student.....
Einstein did not negate Newtonian mechanics"


Not sure, my response is expected here, but just in case it is, my concise comments -:) :

First, thanks a lot for all the points and critique so far. Really helpful and tells me what doesn't work well.
Specifically, re misinformation, I'm not sure there is any.
'Brutality' isn't something clearly defined. In my view, sending tanks into a friendly country to suppress a policy change is quite brutal. I believe many Czechs might've thought so too. Surely, opinions may differ and I respect yours.
Re: Einstein, unfortunately, I didn't have the honor to study with him, but his dropping out of school is regarded a well-established myth, which at least partially isn't inaccurate, so Misha could've relied on it to make a point - of bowing to no authority, of chutzpah, of doubting everything. Wikipedia, history.com (I consider them reputed, but I cannot judge their accuracy) mention approximately this:
" IS IT TRUE THAT EINSTEIN WAS A LOUSY STUDENT?
In some ways, yes. When he was very young, Einstein’s parents worried that he had a learning disability because he was very slow to learn to talk. (He also avoided other children and had extraordinary temper tantrums.) When he started school, he did very well-he was a creative and persistent problem-solver-but he hated the rote, disciplined style of the teachers at his Munich school, and he dropped out when he was 15. Then, when he took the entrance examination for a polytechnic school in Zurich, he flunked. (He passed the math part, but failed the botany, zoology and language sections.) Einstein kept studying and was admitted to the polytechnic institute the following year, but even then he continued to struggle: His professors thought that he was smart but much too pleased with himself, and some doubted that he would graduate. He did, but not by much-which is how the young physicist found himself working in the Swiss Patent Office instead of at a school or university."
The quote is taken from here: http://www.history.com/topics/einstei...

Showing limits of thitherto unshakable Newtonian mechanics is undermining them, in my book -:)
Whoever proves (and I read this may be true) that light speed isn't the max, might equally undermine Einstein's relativity -:)


message 22: by Nik (last edited Oct 11, 2017 06:40AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Kent wrote: "I also questioned the Thailand part. ..."

Got you, guys -:)
Thailand was designed to show that just simple fooling around is treasurable even for someone of Misha's caliber.. He could've lost this or that amount of millions, but a danger of losing a brother is a totally different issue. Besides, discovering that he was robbed off of much of his assets in the midst of the wildest party, seemed grotesque enough to go for it -:)


message 23: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Nik, I regard "brutal" as somewhat worse than the use of force, and in the reference to Prague, the way I read it was that Korablyov went out of his way to hurt/torture the "revolting Czechs", and that was what I was objecting to. As it happened I thought you were referring to Wenceslas Square, about 1430 hrs, Aug 24, 1968, and my views on that are probably different from yours. As for Einstein, I was going by a Google search on the issue, and it turns out there seems to be a lot of misinformation about that. Not important, of course, but I felt the comment was worth while, and I appreciate that characters are entitled to say what they like. The reference to Newton was just more me making a point, and it may not have been the place to make it. Newton was not undermined, and it is that word I object to. It was shown that he was not exactly right, and one of his assumptions was wrong, but oddly enough, Newton knew it was probably wrong, but he had no means of know what was right. (In a letter he said that instantaneous action at a distance had to be wrong, but he ad no clue as to what the speed limit was.)

As for Thailand, yes, I suppose it goes to Misha's character, but that raises an issue that I think should be left until the final washup, but to summarise the question, Is Misha's character reasonably consistent with what we have to account for? Is he fit for purpose? Something for the others to discuss eventually.


message 24: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) What did you all think of the initial meeting between Aqsaqal, Oleg, Misha and Koroblyov? I though it a quite believable interchange amongst oligarchs and politicians in general.


message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Maybe I missed something, Alex, but I had two reservations about that meeting. The first one was, why did Aqsaqal agree to it in the first place? The gift of a horse would hardly be enough. I would have expected Aqsaqal to ask himself, given the potential for trouble, who was the most powerful, and the most likely to give him trouble? The answer would seem to be Koroblyov, so I would have expected Aqsaqal to check it out with Koroblyov first, and he would put some condition on Misha.

The next thing I found unusual was that Koroblyov never even denied he had Sasha. I would have expected him to do that, then tell Misha that yes, this was something bad, and yes, if he put the word out, there would be a very good chance his men could find Sasha, but there would be a price, and Misha would have to do more than go to Thailand. He would expect Misha to do something that would help Russia retain its influence in Ukraine, and something better than just promise not to do anything.

On my reading, Koroblyov was responsible for taking Sasha, and he wanted something from Misha. Koroblyov was not interested in money, and he had no real interest in Sasha, and probably he could not care less about Misha except for Misha's public views on Ukraine. Therefore Koroblyov should have (a) demanded some course of action, and (b) offered some sort of carrot for compliance (and stick for non-compliance) more than just returning Sasha.

On point I found difficult - there were not a lot of clues as to who Koroblyov was. The implication was that he was very high up in Moscow, but presumably not the Director of the FSB. Outlining what he was would have made his actions in the first half of the book more credible for me.


message 26: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Alex wrote: "What did you all think of the initial meeting between Aqsaqal, Oleg, Misha and Koroblyov? I though it a quite believable interchange amongst oligarchs and politicians in general."

Thanks for the vote of confidence -:)


message 27: by Alex (last edited Oct 15, 2017 12:39AM) (new)

Alex (asato) I'm at 60%. It's a fast read. On thing that I think contributes to the fast pace is that the corporate financial and legal dealings are glossed over in favor of scenes when Misha "meets" with his "competitors"? Do you think that those corporate machinations should be dealt with more thoroughly?


message 28: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Ian wrote: "why did Aqsaqal agree to it in the first place? The gift of a horse would hardly be enough...."

If I may offer some perspective -:)
He agreed because of Oleg. Obviously (at least, I thought so) he had very close business ties with Oleg, so why wouldn't he want to try to help? The horse is nothing - just a tribute of respect, but he gained a powerful, well-connected friend in Ukraine and these guys might want to have 'lobbies' in the countries they have interests in...

Ian wrote: "The next thing I found unusual was that Koroblyov never even denied he had Sasha....."

Yes, he neither denied nor confirmed.. This wasn't important, as the assumption was that whoever holds him, Korablyov would be able to sort it out, if he wanted..

Ian wrote: "On my reading, Koroblyov was responsible for taking Sasha, and he wanted something from Misha....."

He wanted Misha neutralized (physically or otherwise) and he gained it. He didn't do anything for Misha, but for Aqsaqal (out of pretended respect) and having the latter owing a favor was of value for Korablyov.

Thought these undertones were there, but if they aren't, I guess I wasn't sufficiently diligent in providing insight into the motives of the (anti)heroes -:)


message 29: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Nik, I got the ties with Oleg, and I got the favour to Aqsaqal, but my thought at the time was, Korablyov would not be the sort of person who would put any faith whatsoever in a favour owed or some assertion of being helpful. If he is prepared to have Sash kidnapped in broad daylight, is he going to trust anyone else to keep their word? Aqsaqal needs Russia, and there would be deals irrespective of the outcome of this meeting, so I think Korablyov would want something concrete from Misha. Also, given what is out of bounds for the moment, Korablyov never thought he gained anything from this meeting, nor did he. The point I am thinking about is the question, is the characterization of Korablyov consistent with what the person is supposed to be? Obviously, his is open to interpretation, and I would be interested in other opinions.


message 30: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Alex wrote: "I'm at 60%. It's a fast read. On thing that I think contributes to the fast pace is that the corporate financial and legal dealings are glossed over in favor of scenes when Misha "meets" with his "..."

My feeling, Alex, in answer to your last question is yes. If Misha is supposed to be trying to get on the top of the Forbes list (why anyone would want to do that eludes me, but nevertheless . . .) I think his characterization should have him more focused on corporate matters. It is his major aim in life, but he largely ignores it all the way through the book.

This goes towards my washup question to come, but to get an idea, the issue is, are the characters fit for purpose? That is, given the way the characters behave, and on what they fail to do, could they reasonably be what they are stated to be? Something to think about for later.


message 31: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Those are excellent character-focused questions. Since Misha is the MC, what does everyone think about his character? Does he fall solidly into one of the noir crime thriller tropes? Do you like or care even a little about him? Does he seem real enough to you? Does he have character depth?


message 32: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) I'm at 71% now. Thought-provoking perspective on the (view spoiler) event which links up with our film of the month. It would be a good discussion point after 19 October. I'm going to watch the film of the month on netflix soon.


message 33: by Kent (new)

Kent Babin | 176 comments Alex wrote: "I'm at 60%. It's a fast read. On thing that I think contributes to the fast pace is that the corporate financial and legal dealings are glossed over in favor of scenes when Misha "meets" with his "..."

It makes sense to me that the corporate matters are glossed over. Misha is not a corporate details guy, he's a "biznes" man. He surrounds himself with people who handle all of the actual business stuff while he cultivates relationships and uses his charisma for various means.

What did you all think of the initial meeting between Aqsaqal, Oleg, Misha and Koroblyov? I though it a quite believable interchange amongst oligarchs and politicians in general.

I agree with Nik on this one. What is intended and what actually happens at these meetings are often different. Face is important, especially in front of a figure such as the President of Kazakhstan. "Pretend respect" is a good way to describe it. Just because a character should do something, doesn't mean that he is going to do so at such a meeting.

Since Misha is the MC, what does everyone think about his character? Does he fall solidly into one of the noir crime thriller tropes? Do you like or care even a little about him? Does he seem real enough to you? Does he have character depth?

My issue with Misha is that he doesn't have a consistent voice. Sometimes he sounds like a frat boy, other times like a 1950s economics professor. My experience with people like Misha (not to say the billionaires, but the type) is that they speak the same way regardless of the situation. It's part of their inflated ego. They make lewd jokes at business meetings because they can, because people have no choice but to respect them.

I don't think he falls into any specific trope. Former Soviet oligarch isn't a character that's been done a lot, at least to my knowledge.

He seems real enough, if exaggerated at times. It's hard for me to care about him simply because he espouses so many things I disagree with. As for the depth, you really need to read the first book in the series to understand Misha. I found that everything that happens in the 2nd and 3rd books make a lot more sense once you get the full story of how Misha became the oligarch we know.


message 34: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Kent makes an interesting point - we are reading these books the wrong way around.


message 35: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Further to Misha's character, I have been involved with some quite rich people (not quite a billion) and have seen a lot of information of some really rich people. None of them, of course were Ukrainian oligarchs, but one characteristic in common to all of them was a concentration on money and "the big picture", and details needed to make it work. Even in 1944, Hitler would break off conversations with Generals to take about manganese production, and he would spout figures. All of the rich people I know of will spend a good amount of time thinking about money and deals. They are also usually rather possessive about what they have. Now I can see the newly minted oligarch would be different in many ways, but I can't see him being different regarding a concern for money, nor not be concerned about being cheated. As far as I could make out, Misha showed none of those characteristics in the first part of the book. (I have finished it, and I am trying hard not to spoil.) As an aside, the most powerful ones I have known do not have an inflated ego - they KNOW how good they are, and they say very little at meetings. Their aim is to get others to do what they want done, and the point of a meeting is to determine who they can persuade to do what. In my opinion, Koroblyov was well portrayed on the first point, but failed the second. He should have tried to come away with something firm, since he had the power.

The lurching off into philosophy, economics, and one or two later lurchings about Ukraine were, I thought, more Nik speaking.

More on the Kazakh meeting - I would have thought Misha, if in character, would make some attempt to do some sort of deal with Koroblyov. Nick could make the case that the fact he didn't try would lead Koroblyov to think he would not keep his word, but that should occur to Misha as well. Misha seems to have no feel for strategy, which begs the question, how could he succeed in getting to where he is without learning something of it? In this way, I feel Misha's character was substandard. There was too much emphasis on his cavorting around, on philosophy etc, and nowhere near enough mention of business.


message 36: by Kent (new)

Kent Babin | 176 comments Ian, I agree with your assessment of rich people. The only point I would make to the contrary is that Misha didn't become rich by winning in a competitive environment. He took advantage of the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. The skill set required is quite different. It's not to say he didn't need to be smart, but getting to the top was more reminiscent of the mafia than of a traditional tycoon. One could argue that it was a "right place, right time" situation. That said, you wouldn't know this unless you read the first book.

By using force and coercion to assert his legitimacy, his ego ballooned out of control. Not only did he know he was rich, but he needed to show it as well. He thinks he can solve any problem, bed any woman, or charm any person just by virtue of being who he is. His business acumen has very little to do with it.

My sense is that Misha wouldn't have made it in a competitive economy. He's an arbitrage chaser and a monopolist who takes advantage of lawless societies where influential people can be bought and sold. Even in that environment, he needed detail-oriented people around him to make sure things got done, while he reaped the rewards bestowed to any rich person.

You're right about the "Nik-isms." :)


message 37: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Ian wrote: "In this way, I feel Misha's character was substandard. There was too much emphasis on his cavorting around, on philosophy etc, and nowhere near enough mention of business."

I kind of agree with this.

Side note: Although his cavorting around might be used to show his hedonistic character, once or twice is probably sufficient in a thriller.

Kent wrote: "It makes sense to me that the corporate matters are glossed over. Misha is not a corporate details guy, he's a "biznes" man. He surrounds himself with people who handle all of the actual business stuff while he cultivates relationships and uses his charisma for various means."

But I also kind of agree with this.

So, Misha was consistent in these ways, but perhaps stretched the bounds of believability and hence suspension of disbelief.


message 38: by Alex (last edited Oct 15, 2017 09:35PM) (new)

Alex (asato) Kent wrote: "It's not to say he didn't need to be smart, but getting to the top was more reminiscent of the mafia than of a traditional tycoon."

Ah, a mafioso-type. That is good insight that makes more sense out of his character! I think that it's possible to garner that from the book, but perhaps reading the first one would have made it clear from the outset. Still, you can see the mafia honor system at work in family matters (view spoiler).


message 39: by Alex (last edited Oct 15, 2017 10:23PM) (new)

Alex (asato) Ian wrote: "As for Thailand, yes, I suppose it goes to Misha's character, but that raises an issue that I think should be left until the final washup, but to summarise the question, Is Misha's character reasonably consistent with what we have to account for? Is he fit for purpose? Something for the others to discuss eventually. "

Kent wrote: "I also questioned the Thailand part. It seemed too long for its purpose. We know Misha is a philanderer...no need to remind us of that. :)"

Going back to the Thailand series of scenes (on which Ian first opined), I thought that it was a much-needed moment of reflection, fraternal camaraderie, and philosophizing. However, with regard to that last purpose, up to this point in the book, I don't think Misha's philosophical bent, which is given full reign in this section, is provided sufficient motivation.


message 40: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Kent, it is true I have no idea what the collapse of the old USSR was like in one sense but I did read one book on someone who made a billion in this time, and it was all about doing deals for the coupons, and once adequate coupons were obtained, the next job was to get an advance from a bank. There were quite a few of these banks that more or less "invented" money. The business was not mafia like at this stage, although successful oligarchs did tend to hire unemployed Spetsnaz men, and it got a bit more mafia like after that. I don't know how Misha got Arthur, but that part of it seems unobjectionable.

I agree with Alex that there is a strong case for a moment of reflection, but I rather fancy any really oriented oligarch would be reflecting on wealth and opportunities. That does not prevent the bout of hedonism, but chasing women, etc, should be a side event for "relaxation". He can't be doing that all day, so there should be some business oriented action. Again, I can't go further without spoiling, but I shall expand on this later.


message 41: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Very interesting opinions so far and very good food for thought for me!
Some of my insight, if you may find it interesting as a sort of 'behind the scenes':
Not sure I like Misha either -:) He has (in my imagination at least) - a conflicting personality rotating somewhere between survival, success and moneymaking in any possible way and something more noble, more lofty things in life, like family, patriotism, something meaningful. Sometimes the former come with the upper hand and the other time - the latter.
The concept of Misha - is not to show a successful businessman. He isn't. Kent grasped it quite well - he's a mafia type, macho, opportunist, taking what's easy and accessible to think what to do with it later or to hire someone to think how to make money of what he grabbed. When speaking about billionaires the emphasis is usually on their success story - how they made it and so on. This isn't the point here. I wanted to show that all those billionaires are regular people and not demi-gods: farting, acting silly, having other interests as well, being desperate, etc... Yes, they usually have wits, guts, killer instinct and so on, but stressing only these would be a little one-dimensional for me.
The 'accumulation' period of Misha's life is indeed in the first book.
Also, I don't know whether you've noticed, but a big percent (maybe up to 25-30) of the uber-rich go 'nuts' in the biz sense, once they made it very big. There is this 'giving pledge' among over 100 billionaires. Yeah, maybe it's not entirely sincere for some of them, but it's anti-business. Many become 'eccentric', although the majority probably still keeps steady.
When you struggle, compete, rush to the top, you are fully concentrated on moneymaking, but once you reach the top, some switch to something else - because they'd made it and look for other things, values, seeking to leave a legacy.
Doing biz in former USSR is much more demanding than in the developed world and connections-dependent. It's for a reason, many Russian, Ukrainian and other oligarchs retire or semi-retire quietly at 30 or 40 into more comfortable locations, be they London, Monaco or elsewhere..
Misha's voice inconsistency may result from combining somewhat irreconcilable features of being well-educated, intelligent, a little sensitive dude with the need to be ruthless, assertive, very cynical and crude gangster-type businessman/mafioso -:)
But Misha is now yours as much as mine, so every angle is certainly a valid opinion!


message 42: by Alex (last edited Oct 15, 2017 11:02PM) (new)

Alex (asato) Kent wrote: "As for the depth, you really need to read the first book in the series to understand Misha. I found that everything that happens in the 2nd and 3rd books make a lot more sense once you get the full story of how Misha became the oligarch we know."

Ian wrote: "Kent makes an interesting point - we are reading these books the wrong way around."

We read the third book in this series, Be First or Be Dead, in a previous BoM and now Mortal Showdown, which is #2, but I was under the impression that the series was sequence-independent, no? Be First or Be Dead addressed an independent problem different from the one now in at issue in Mortal Showdown--even though Be First or Be Dead did make reference to the Puppet Master.

I suppose maintaining consistency and motivation in character development are common difficulties when writing a sequence-independent series. As opposed to a sequence-dependent series, in which it's expected that the reader would have already encountered the character development in the previous books and it wouldn't have to be repeated.


message 43: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments Alex, the reason I mentioned that was that Kent wrote "That said, you wouldn't know this unless you read the first book." So I assumed that the first book would be important.

I appreciate Nik's comment about such rich people becoming eccentric, but do they do it this quickly? And while Gates has given away a huge amount of money, he still has about $83 billion, so he is hardly impoverished 😀

I guess my point is that the very rich and powerful are not exactly regular people. Regular people can't get there. These guys have something that puts them apart from all and sundry, and I think it is focus on the task. But I may be wrong, as you may have noticed I am not exactly ultra rich.


message 44: by Kent (new)

Kent Babin | 176 comments We read the third book in this series, Be First or Be Dead, in a previous BoM and now Mortal Showdown, which is #2, but I was under the impression that the series was sequence-independent, no?

I was under the same impression, but then I read the first book and it explained so much about Misha's actions in the 3rd (and 2nd, as I found out after reading it) book.

Nik's comments

Totally agree about business in the former Soviet Union. It's not for the faint of heart. And there is a limit to what a person can endure. Plus, as we saw in Russia over the last 15 years, even the richest can get on the wrong side of the true power structure. Better to make your money and get out while you can.

But I may be wrong, as you may have noticed I am not exactly ultra rich.

What you may lack in finances, you more than make up for in knowledge. :)


message 45: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) We can now discuss the book in its entirety without having to use spoiler tags.


message 46: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9507 comments My first question relates to the "cleaning out" of Misha's assets by Johnny. Is that possible in the Ukraine? And if so, why doesn't someone tell Misha when he recovers? Trades of that size are news in most places. Here, if someone were lying unconscious and someone else tried to use power of attorney to make a major trade and hopelessly underpriced, all trade in the stock would be suspended and the fraud squad should be all over it like a rash because even if the trade is not theft, it is at best using inside knowledge to recover something from an impending company implosion. So, even if this were possible in Ukraine, shouldn't the reader have an explanation or forewarning as to how it is possible? This would seem to me to be a major point where tension could be raised, but it seemed to me to be somewhat "so-so", other than a cause for Misha to seek revenge.

On a second point, is it reasonable to think a Russian sub would be hanging around outside a French port just in case Misha went to sea? And then devote a torpedo to this yacht? How would a submerged sub know it was Misha's? The Russians surely would not want to be sinking the wrong yacht? How would the Russians know NO evidence whatsoever would be left? That, to me also did not seem realistic/plausible.


message 47: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments I encountered real cases of stealing companies through POAs issued for a completely different purpose... Many holdings of oligarchs are in private companies and so veiled through complex corporate structures that they are not even done in Ukraine, but often in overseas offshores, unnoticed


message 48: by Alex (last edited Oct 20, 2017 11:26AM) (new)

Alex (asato) You should change the packaging for this series and add a subtitle or even retitle it as follows:

“The fictionalized memoir of a Ukrainian Oligarch”

And then add a preface and change the blurb to something like:
Although the exact persons and events are completely fictional they are based on real events as personally observed or experienced by the author.
Adding some personal and nonfiction relevance to the series would really make for a unique piece in the thriller marketplace in that it sits in-between fiction and nonfiction about a time and place that is not generally well-covered in the thriller genre—and arguably even in nonfiction.


message 49: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Re subs, I think Russian subs are being frequently spotted in most unexpected places in the world. As far as I understand it's part of the military strategy to have part of the underwater fleet all the time in the water prepared for the 'nuclear' response - the second strike. Russian subs in the Med is probably not something very unrealistic ..,


message 50: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13485 comments Thanks for this advice, Alex! Definitely something to think about


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